przed: (tt ot5 puppy pile)
Since planning a birthday party the week before Christmas was insanity, I decided to forego a 50th birthday party in favour of a 50 Years and a Black Belt party in June (assuming I manage to survive that long *g*), and instead we took a family trip to New York City for a long weekend. (I've been trying to get us all to NYC for a couple of years, so it was a good excuse to finally do it.)

Photographic evidence behind the cut )
przed: (tt ot5 puppy pile)
I keep meaning to post, about MediaWest and other things, but life has kept me constantly on the hop. So this is my attempt to catch up with the state of things.

MediaWest )

The talent show and school festival )

The Book of Mormon )

A work visit )

Jackie Chan )

Tomorrow there will be a play that's part of Toronto's Luminato arts festival, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. It's directed by Robert Wilson, who is generally amazing, but the chief attraction for me is that it co-stars Willem Dafoe, who I adore past reason. (This will be our third babysitting night in two weeks. After which it will no doubt be months before we manage it again.)
przed: (tt footie mark's feet)
Had a great practice today. The kids had fun and they were rocking the passing. The game itself was fun, but a bit less successful: final score: 4 - 8, and not for us, alas. The 4 points were all from the same kid. He's quiet and intense and really loves playing the game. Which is good, because he was in the final lineup for the evening and his three teammates completely lost interest in the game and were chasing each other around the wrong end of the field, leaving him to take on the opposing four players by himself. Which he totally did.

Ros is doing okay, but I swear she overthinks the dribbling more and more every week. My mission this week is to just get her kicking a ball around the park so she isn't carefully considering where she's going to put her foot every time she gets hold of the ball. (Her form is impeccable, but she's four times slower than all the other kids. Which I know, because I had them run the field with their balls as a warm up and she did one length in the time the other kids did four. ::sigh::)

In other news, my mom was visiting this weekend, which was lovely, and I took her to see the local production of War Horse on Sunday. The show was every bit as good as the NT version in London, minus a couple of dodgy accents. (Canadians should not be allowed to do Welsh accents. I'm just sayin'.) But man, that audience had hearts of stone. When I saw it in London, the entire auditorium was openly weeping at the end, but the Toronto audience...wasn't. There were a few discreetly dabbed eyes, and a very enthusiastic standing ovation, but you could tell the story didn't have the same resonance for this audience that it did for an English one. Interesting... (For the record, I was a total mess from the opening scenes of the show, benefit of knowing what was coming.)

Also, I've broken 14,000 words on the Pros Big Bang story, well over the rough draft limit. Yay! I was beginning to think that I might get a complete draft done in the next week or two, but then I sat down and mapped out the rest of the story and realized that there's 15 to 18 scenes to go. At 1,000 words a scene, that means I'm going to hit around 30,000 words again, and that's not getting done in the next week. But still, it's well on the way.
przed: (theatre masks)
Part, the First
It's been a hectic week, what with (unspectacular) snow days and the usual work craziness. But Thursday I took the time to attend my first National Theatre Live screening. They were broadcasting a Donmar production of King Lear starring Derek Jacobi, and since I could afford neither the time nor the money for a trip to London or New York to see the production (though the NYC dates were tempting) this was my one chance to see it.

In which I change my mind on Lear... )

Part, the Second
The other morning, the sweetie nearly did me in.

Sweetie: You know Ralph Fiennes is doing a film of Coriolanus, right?
Me: What!?

Those of you who know me well, probably know that Coriolanus is one of my favourite plays by Shakespeare, right up there with Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry V. (Yes, I like my Shakespeare rather on the martial side.) So the news that Mr. Fiennes, for whom I've been accumulating a lot of respect in the last few years, was doing a film version is, shall we say, relevant to my interests.

In which there is squeeing, and perhaps a pic or two... )
przed: (london big ben)
I'm stuck at home with Ros today (she has an ear infection, I've got a migraine, and we're neither of us happy, though at least she's sleeping) so I thought I'd get a start on the theatre reviews from London.

First up is the first play we saw: The Country Girl with Martin Shaw. And how was it?

Well.... )
przed: (theatre masks)
The Sweetie was kind enough to look after Ros today, so I could pop off to Stratford with a couple of mates for a day of theatre and good food.

We saw the production of Dangerous Liaisons, with Tom McCamus as the Vicomte de Valmont, and Seana McKenna as the Marquise do Merteuil.

This was the one must-see production for me this year, and it didn't disappoint. McCamus is one of my very favourite actors--I've seen him do Coriolanus, Richard III, Mack the Knife, to name a very few of his roles, and he is still my favourite Hamlet--and he excels at playing smart, complicated characters. I reckoned he'd be perfect as Valmont, and I was right. He takes the right amount of delicious pleasure at the character's erotic machinations, but also shows just a crack of vulnerability at the end, when he realizes he has actually fallen in love with the woman he's set out to seduce.

Here's a pic of McCamus, just because.

McKenna's Marquise de Merteuil was a fantastic match for him. She's an equally smart actor, and did a fine job of portraying both the Marquise's cunning, and her jealousy.

I'm only seeing one more production at Stratford this year. We're taking Ros to her first play: Peter Pan. (They're listing it as appropriate for 4-year-olds, so we're hoping she likes it.) As a bonus, McCamus is playing Captain Hook:

I think I'm going to have a hard time not rooting for the wrong guy. *g*
przed: (bucky)
March Madness sort of snuck up on me this year, but it's yet again time to break out the Bucky icon. The Badgers are playing Florida State, and since they're a 12 seed up against a 5 seed, I don't think Bucky's going to get much air time this year.

Amongst the general insanity, it's been two weeks of fabulous theatre for me. I ventured down to NYC last weekend to see a cast that included Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Ethan Hawke in both The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard. Both productions were stunningly good, and I don't say that lightly. (I generally hate Chekov, but this was a new translation by Tom Stoppard with a fabulous cast and it managed to be both funny and utterly tragic.)

Tonight, the Sweetie and I saw Travesties, another Stoppard, at Toronto's own Soulpepper theatre. It was amazing. A really great cast and just a crazy smart, funny play.

Yesterday, I got my trib copy of Lace and Blade 2. Actually holding a physical copy of a book I'm in is a trip. (I played geek and brought it into work to show my pals.)

And speaking of work, one of my co-workers had to take a picture of me this week for an article in our company newsletter. (I'm now not only a one person training department, I'm also a one person video production department. For the same money of course. Economic downturn, belt-tightening, blah blah blah. But at least I like my job, for all that it's kinda nuts.) But just for fun, I asked her to take a pic I could post here, on account of my new look:
Behold the P with long hair and glasses... )
przed: (Default)
Last night, I saw the Lord of the Rings play/musical. I hadn't planned on seeing it because it pretty much scared me, but the ticket was a birthday present from one of my best friends, so I had to go. And I ended up very much enjoying myself.

On the level of theatrical spectacle, it succeeds admirably. The set and costume designs are amazing. The whole stage is enveloped in a tangle of branches that extend into the auditorium and can convey the terror of Mordor or the wonder of Lothlorien depending on the lighting. The Black Riders are chilling and beautiful and Shelob is unbelievably creepy. (Through a combination of puppetry and lighting and performance, they've actually managed to put a believable, 15 foot high spider on stage.)

The battle scenes are also extraordinary. Everything about them--lighting, choreography, the constant reconfigurations of the incredible moving stage--combines to produce scenes the are truly awe-inspiring. I don't think it hurts that they used Terry King, an extraordinary fight co-ordinator who's been working with the RSC for years.

And then there's the music. The fact that this was to be a musical was the thing that made me most nervous. I have to admit that mostly the songs in the books make me cringe and these days I skim them if I look at them at all. But the music was wonderful. The highlight for me was undoubtedly Galadriel's song, which had a dissonant, otherworldly quality and was clearly written by the Finnish group Varttina. But even the extended song and dance in the Prancing Pony was a joy to watch. It may stop the action cold, but it's so energetic and full of good cheer that you can't complain about it.

What's not so good? Well, there's not much subtlety in the area of character development. Boromir gets totally short-changed. Faramir, Denethor, Eomer and Grima Wormtongue are missing entirely. Eowyn gets hardly any time at all. ("I want to fight." Followed immediately by "Whee, I killed the Witch King," and then she's gone.) Brent Carver, who is usually so very good, seems to be seeing how fast he can get through Gandalf's lines. And I have to say, that if you weren't well-acquainted with the books and/or movie, I'm not sure how much sense it would all make.

But in the end, I'm very glad I saw it.
przed: (martin-a man for all seasons)
My brain has finally, mostly, cleared of jetlag, so I now feel competent to post something about seeing A Man for All Seasons with [ profile] shayheyred and [ profile] justacat.

The play was on stage at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London's West End:

I'll put the actual reviews and assorted squee behind a cut.

The play's the thing )

How hot is Martin? )

The stage door )

A couple of posters for the play )

More on the rest of the trip, including a few more pics, in the next few days.
przed: (li'l me)
Just got back from our yearly visit to Stratford, Ontario, where we stay at a lovely B&B, visit some of our favourite restaurants and see far too many plays. We saw five plays this weekend: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Edward II, As You Like It, The Brothers Karamazov and The Tempest. With the exception of Cat, all the plays were good, and three, Edward, As You Like It and Karamazov, were exceptional.

For the slash fans on my list who are within driving distance of southern Ontario, I totally recommend Edward II. The play is being produced in the Studio Theatre, which means it's a very intimate production. The performances are pretty uniformly fantastic, led by David Snelgrove's Edward. And my appreciation of the play was not at all hindered by the fact that the costume designer favoured a lot of black leather. And red leather. And, well, leather in general.

For visual aid of why you should see the production, check out the cut. I've uploaded the production pic of Snelgrove as Edward and Jamie Robinson as Gaveston, his lover.

Eye candy here )
przed: (squee martin)
There is now an official picture of Martin as Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. Made my heart skip a beat, I can tell you.

Martin as More )
przed: (slutty ray)
For the Pros fen on the flist.

I've been checking where the production of A Man for All Seasons starring Martin Shaw has been booked for several months now, trying to decide whether to aim for a regional performance or hold out for a West End transfer. This week I saw that there were a ton more dates on the production company's web site, but still nothing for London. (You can check the listings here.

I was getting worried, since I really can only afford to go to England once in the near future, and I won't be able to travel at all after about March or April next year due to certain life changing events that are due to take place in our lives.

So I decided to email the production company to ask if they really were doing a London transfer, and if so when. Lo and behold, they actually answered me:

This is the response I got:

"Yes, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS will be transferring to the West End after
its 9-week tour. We anticipate that it will play in London from 21
December until 8 April 2006. The theatre is not yet confirmed but will
be by the end of the summer."

The noise you just heard was me screaming with joy as I simultaneously do the happy dance. I shall get to see Martin as Sir Thomas More! Several times, I hope. And from the front row, if I have anything to say about it. (The theatre afficianado in me is appalled I would consider getting front row seats, but this is Martin Shaw we're talking about. I'm getting as close as I possibly can.)

Anyone on the flist up for planning a joint outing?
przed: (li'l me)
We're back from England!

A brief wrap-up of the last couple of days...

The Good

Finally meeting [ profile] bluespirit_star and [ profile] xanthefic properly. Spent a lovely day with [ profile] bluespirit_star, including the Eccentric London walk and a nice sit-down in the covered court at the British Museum, then had a very nice meal in Covent Garden with her and [ profile] xanthefic.

Seeing the London production of The Producers. (I kept thinking how much better Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick would have been, but then Conleth Hill, who we saw last year in Democracy, stole the show and made it all too much fun.)

The Bad:

Food poisoning. (Note to self: Never have prawn salad sandwiches from Pret á Manger again.) I've never had aches and fever from food poisoning before, and I'm still recovering four days later.

The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union at the Donmar Warehouse. Really, the title should have been warning enough, but it starred one of my fave stage actors, Michael Pennington. Alas, good actors cannot save a crap play. To add insult to injury, the next show at the Donmar sounds totally cool (This Is How It Goes by Neil LaBute, starring Ben Chaplin and Idris Elba). Oh, for a time machine. Or another ticket to London.

It was a lovely time, but I'm glad to be home.

And I'll be off to MediaWest in a week and a half...
przed: (li'l me)
Saw two plays yesterday: Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Theatre of Blood. Both were quite fab and possibly the best things I've seen this trip.

Someone is about three men who are being held hostage in Beirut. There's an American (played by Jonny Lee Miller with an entirely credible American accent), an Irishman (Aiden Gillen) and an Englishman (David Threllfall). The entirely play takes place in the one room where the men have been confined for months, as they try to overcome both their boredom and their fear. It could have gone wrong in so many ways, but it's quite amazing. The script is really solid and the acting was amazing. I was beginning to wonder if Gillen was a one trick pony, since apart from QAF I haven't seen him in anything he's been particularly good in, but he was fabulous as Edward, as piss-taking Irishman. Miller had the less fully realized role of Adam, but was good as well. The really plum part, however, was Threllfall's Michael. It's probably the most interesting role of the play--Michael has to go from a meek university lecturer to a man who shows hidden strengths--and Threllfall does an awesome job with it.

Theatre of Blood, on the other hand, is sublimely ridiculous. It's based on a '70s B film starring Vincent Price. Jim Broadbent played the Price role of Edward Lionheart, a hammy actor who decides to kill the critics who denied him a drama award the previous year. He locks the lot of them up in a crumbling Victorian theatre and proceeds to knock them off in appropriately Shakespearean ways. As befits the title, there's one heck of a lot of blood, which only makes it all the more funny. Not for everyone, but I thought it was brilliant.

And now I'm off to meet [ profile] bluespirit_star. Hoorah.
przed: (li'l me)
Yesterday was a lovely day spent with [ profile] llinos and [ profile] marigoldg in Oxford. We toured various Tolkien related sites, had lunch at the Eagle and Child pub (a.k.a. the Bird and Baby) where Tolkien and the other Inklings used to meet, and generally had a lovely time. If you want to see photographic evidence, check out [ profile] llinos's journal at [ profile] knittedmerry took me on a bit of an adventure.

In theatre news, last night I saw Julius Caesar, with Simon Russell Beale as Cassius, Anton Lesser as Brutus, John Shrapnel as Julius Caesar and Ralph Fiennes as Mark Antony. The production had a very modern setting, with the Senators dressed like City business men and the mob appearing as London street people, and the direction was stunning. The acting was uniformly good too. (Don't worry, [ profile] faramir_boromir, I'll give you the details later.)

Tuesday night we saw Henry IV, Part 2, and astoundingly I think it might have been more successful that Part 1. Part 2 is not one of my favourites and large stretches of it usually come across as dead boring, IMO. In this production, though, they actually managed to make the Justice Shallow stuff genuinely funny, which I though impossible. Didn't hurt that a) John Wood was playing Shallow and b) they made a lot of judicious cuts to those scenes. David Bradley, as the king as stood out this time. He was a bit weak as Henry IV in Part 1, but as the dying king his frailty was perfect. Alas, Matthew Macfadyen while good, will not be giving Antony Sher a run for his money any time soon. He was very good in the confrontation with his father, but he got a bit shouty in his final scene with Falstaff. A more modulated take on that scene would be more effective. Well, I think so, anyway.

Today is a major theatre day: Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, with Aiden Gillen and Jonny Lee Miller this afternoon; Theatre of Blood with Jim Broadbent tonight.

And tomorrow I get to hang out with [ profile] bluespirit_star!

Ah, London

May. 10th, 2005 09:56 am
przed: (li'l me)
It's our third day in London, and I'm enjoying myself immensely, even if we are trying to cram too much into each day.

We saw Henry IV, Part 1 last night, and while it was good, it was by no means the best production of the play I've ever seen. Both Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Gambon took a while to warm up into their parts. That said, there were some stunningly good moments,like Hal and Falstaff taking turns at pretending to be the king, and Hal's confrontation with his father, and the fight choreography was outstanding. (Leave it to me to notice the swordplay.)

So far we've been to Greenwich, done a Jack the Ripper walk, done a bus tour of the city, hit the Carravaggio exhibit at the National Gallery (okay, that last one was just me, and it was stunning). Today is Westminster Abbey and, probably, Covent Garden before we pop off to the National for Henry IV, Part 2.

Tomorrow, I get to see [ profile] llinos!
przed: (li'l me)
I can't believe we leave for London on Friday. I have too much to do before then (including making more headway on my new vid for MediaWest, and not forgetting the laundry), but I'm so looking forward to the trip. I get to hook up with [ profile] bluespirit_star, as well as a friend from my university days who has taken up residence in the U.K.

But, as always, my main reason for going over is the theatre.

What I'll be seeing... )
przed: (boromir squee)
Just got back from seeing the One Man Lord of the Rings. And it was far too much fun.

It's just one actor, Charles Ross, on a bare stage doing the entire trilogy in an hour. That's twenty minutes per movie and yet it all makes a perverse kind of sense. (I'm sure it helps if you've seen the movies an, ahem, excessive number of times.) Ross' Gollum is absolutely perfect, as is his far-too-tear-prone Sam. Of course, in my opinion, there was far too little Boromir. And I don't think I'm ever going to be able to watch Denethor sending Faramir off to his death without giggling, just a little. (Not a good thing.)

I tried to see this when Ross did it at the Fringe last year, but tickets were impossible to get. I'm just very glad he brought it back for Harbourfront's World Stage fest.
przed: (groovy)
Whilst looking in vain for information on whether Martin Shaw is really going to do A Man for All Seasons in the West End this year, I came across some even more exciting London theatre news. Well, for me, anyway.

The National is staging Henry IV, Parts One and Two from mid-April to July 2. Which is good news, because Henry IV, or Part One at least, is one of my all time favourite plays. The really great news is that Michael Gambon is playing Falstaff and Matthew Macfadyen is playing Prince Hal. And the rest of the cast is stacked with old pros like David Bradley and John Wood. Way too freaking cool.

Now it just remains to come up with a scheme to get to London for this, while still keeping enough vacation time and cash on hand in case the rumoured Martin Shaw production happens.

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